I came to know about the reputation system in World of Warcraft as I investigated the mount system that players gain access to at level 20. I found myself in a unique situation because, as a Worgen Druid, I had access to both a racial and a job specific skill that increased my travel speed without a mount. Still, I decided to see if I could buy a mount in Darnassus, one of the major cities of Kalimdor. Because I was a Worgen, I was not allowed to buy a mount from Darnassus until I improved my “reputation” with the city. With my interest piqued, I decided to further investigate the reputation system and how to engage with it.
I argue that items and level better represent the meaning of reputation than the “reputation” points that the players earn with factions. First off, how is reputation earned? Reputation points can be earned alongside quests that pertain to a faction’s city/area as well as from killing mobs and bosses. Specific reputation quests are also available that are repeatable daily. Reputation with factions can be viewed by pressing [U] and can be toggled as an experience bar in the HUD. Although this description makes reputation seem like an integral part of the game, I was only made aware of it as fleeting blips in my dialogue box that informed me of my increasing reputation in Stormwind. I assume that many player go through a large portion of the game without consciously leveling up their faction status. There are, in fact, multiple reputation levels that can be achieved in the same way that players level up with experience. The catch is that reputation can be both lost and gained, leading to negative, neutral, and positive level groups.
|Exalted||999||20%||Access to racial and faction mounts and tabards|
|Revered||21,000||15%||Access to bags in Alliance and Horde factions|
|Honored||12,000||10%||Heroic mode keys for Outland dungeons|
|Friendly||6,000||5%||Championing tabards for Northrend factions|
|Unfriendly||3,000||Cannot buy, sell or interact.|
|Hostile||3,000||You will always be attacked on sight|
A chart from the WoW Wiki displaying reputation levels and their bonuses
How does this manner of earning “reputation” points actually convey meaning to the player? A player may complete a quest and earn enough reputation points to level up from Friendly to Honored. Afterwards, some goods at the nearby vendor will be sold at a discount as a consequence. To me, this is no different than how reputation works outside of Warcraft. Although not as discrete as levels, reputation can be accrued within a community until a person enjoys exclusive benefits as a result. However, I think that reputation in Warcraft is more linked to equipment than actual reputation points. Earning equipment most often involves a much more complex combination of dungeon, raid, and crafting experience than does increasing reputation. Seeing a level 100 player with a full set of end game raid gear does much more for the reputation of the player than does the hidden (to other players) metric of “reputation”. Similarly, a user with low level gear that cannot carry their weight during a dungeon does not lose “reputation” points with NPCs but may be harshly criticized by their fellow teammates.
On the topic of losing reputation, I find a huge disparity between real life experience and World of Warcraft. “Reputation” points are lost either by killing members of a faction or assisting a rival faction which makes sense. However, while performing these actions decreases “reputation” points in an incremental manner, reputation is often lost in the real world all at once.
In the end, “reputation” is a procedural system that allows a player to access higher level content in the same way that experience points do. However, I feel the definition of experience and leveling up are much more applicable to their namesakes in Warcraft than is reputation. Additionally, I think that equipment better represents reputation in the player community then does faction status.
“Reputation.” WoWWiki. Web. 06 Apr. 2015.